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A number of reasons can be responsible for trouble in swallowing, ranging from the innocuous to the extremely serious. The way that doctors rule out the diagnosis is to move from the most likely to the least one.

Here are some of things that your doctor will consider if you complain of difficulty in swallowing

1. Streptococcus infection

This infection is seen most commonly in children however it can be seen in adults of all ages as well. The symptoms which include a sore throat, fever, painful and swollen lymph nodes and a decreased appetite appear around 5-7 days after initial infection.

The treatment includes a simple course of penicillin along with symptomatic treatment for the pain.

2. Esophagitis

An inflammation of the esophagus is referred to as esophagitis. This can occur due to infection from bacterial or viral micro-organisms, as a reaction to certain kinds of medication (painkillers, antibiotics), allergic reaction, or due to trauma.

The patients will have trouble swallowing, a sore throat, heartburn and acid reflux and hoarse voice. There are certain situations which make the development of esophagitis much more likely than under normal circumstances.

This includes a person suffering from an immune compromising condition like HIV, undergoing chemotherapy or radiotherapy in the region of the chest, someone who had had a surgical procedure in the region of the chest, a person suffering from obesity, chronic vomiting or a history of alcohol abuse and heavy smoking.

The treatment includes the use of antibiotics, antiviral medication, treatment of acid reflux and the use of steroids to fight the signs of inflammation.

3. Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)

This is basically caused when acid contents from the stomach flow backwards towards the esophagus. A weakening of the sphincters that separate these contents is one reason for this to occur, although there may be others.

Patients suffering from this will notice heartburn, a difficulty in swallowing, bouts of coughing that seem to become more severe and chronic in nature and a feeling that something is stuck in the esophagus constantly.

This condition requires a lifestyle change from the patient as things like strong coffee, carbonated drinks, alcohol and other acid promoting foods have to be avoided. The use of antacid medication over a long period of time will help provide relief to these symptoms.     

4. Tonsillitis

Our tonsils are pretty unique in that they are believed to be a part of the immune system aiding in defense against micro-organisms, however their routine removal does not predispose us to any opportunistic infections or any other diseases for that matter.

Tonsillitis is a painful condition in which these tonsils located at the back of our throats get infected and cause trouble. It is most commonly seen in children, however it can occur in adults as well.

The symptoms include pain, fever, difficulty in swallowing and speaking, bad breath, presence of reddish and yellowish spots on the tonsils, abscesses and even stomach and earaches. The treatment for this condition is dependent on its severity. Mild cases of tonsillitis are treated with antibiotics, while tonsillectomy is recommended for the more severe cases.   

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